Baltimore-Washington clergy vote not to commission deacon

Tara “T.C.” MorrowPhoto by Steven D. Martin

Tara “T.C.” Morrow

Clergy members of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, meeting June 1 in an Executive Session, did not approve Tara “T.C.” Morrow for commissioning as a Deacon in The United Methodist Church.

Morrow failed to receive the two-thirds of the vote needed to be approved.

Morrow, who is woman married to another woman, became a litmus test in a denomination struggling with the issue of ordaining and commissioning homosexuals.

The United Methodist Church, in its Book of Discipline, does not allow “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” to be ordained.

At the just-concluded General Conference, the church delayed any decisions on human sexuality at the invitation of the denomination’s Council of Bishops. Instead, a special committee will be established by the bishops to study the issues and report back.

The Rev. Charles Parker, chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry for the BWC, brought the report that recommended Morrow for commissioning. Earlier, Parker had released a statement on behalf of the Board, stating that the board did not consider sexual practice for any candidate and did not in the case of Morrow.

Bishop Marcus Matthews called for United Methodists to be in a time of prayer following the clergy meeting.  He called for prayers for Morrow, her family, for leaders of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, and for the unity of the church as it continues to seek God’s will.

Following the decision, Morrow issued a statement: “I am profoundly grateful to the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Baltimore-Washington Conference for affirming my gifts and effectiveness for Christian service in The United Methodist Church,” she said. “My own ministry is strengthened by the BoOM’s affirmation as I continue as a staff member of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and as an active member of Foundry UMC in Washington, DC.

“While I am saddened that the full clergy session did not affirm the BOOM’s recommendation, I appreciate the BoOM’s openness and transparency related to my candidacy,” Morrow continued. “I hope such openness may be an example as the Council of Bishops moves forward with a commission to study and possibly offer revision of the parts of the United Methodist Book of Discipline related to ‘human sexuality.’  As we know well, discussions of how to work with LGBTQ clergy and clergy candidates are not abstract discussions.  We are talking about real lives, real people who are called by God to leadership in the church.”

» View a statement by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture
» View a statement by Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists


The original version of this story was published at and is reprinted with permission. 


Erik Alsgaard, UMR Correspondent

Erik Alsgaard

UMR Correspondent The Rev. Erik Alsgaard is a member of the Detroit Conference, on loan to the Baltimore-Washington Conference, serving in the Ministry of Communications there as Editor of the UMConnection newspaper.

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8 Comments on "Baltimore-Washington clergy vote not to commission deacon"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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I must admit that I am surprised that this conference voted her down. It was the correct decision if we are to follow our BoD.

Wes Andrews
She presumably knows the BOD. She knows that she will be required to uphold the doctrine, currently based on Scripture. She is perfectly free to think, feel and believe what she wants. But if she wants to be a UM clergy, and she can’t stand by our doctrine, then the honoring thing to have done would have been to not pursue ordination. I’m grateful that at least 2/3 the clergy in that conference, honored their vows. Shame on their Board of Ordained Ministry for ignoring our doctrine and letting the process go that far. When I was in process for… Read more »
eric pone

We also don’t allow for a pastor to be saddled in debt as to embarrass the church but how many candidates have well over $100k in debt? The church has systemically created a system that purposely breaks this rule by not enforcing this at the seminary level! Yes the General Church offers pennys on the dollar in “support”, but there is no way someone is getting through the process without crippling debt short of a full ride.

Wes Andrews

Of course, I’m all in for consistency. The Bishops and progressive leaning Board of Ordained Ministries are failing the UMC. Local Conferences have the power to help fund the training of new leaders…

eric pone

I don’t agree with the decision. We seem to act very arbitrarily in how the AC’s go about enforcing it. If we are to follow the BOD people with high debts, confessed drug and alcholics, and people who are unhealthy or maintain unhealthy habits (lack of excercise and smoking) and itinerancy. The BOD is very very clear on these issues also making someone unqualified but how many thousands have been commissioned despite this. I am all for enforcing BOD as long as we have consistency in the matter.

jimmie sheldby
Baltimore-Washington annual conference has done the correct thing. One wonders, though, what the firm/final vote count was. As more conference boards of ordained ministry as well as district boards continue to ignore what the book of discipline states, in this writer’s opinion, the umc is ever closer to removing the language from the discipline that the liberal/progressive movement wants gone. In this writer’s opinion, the special committee that the council of bishops has commissioned is primarily window dressing. The decision(s) that must eventually be made will be not easier 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 years down the line.… Read more »
UMR: I become amused/amazed/disenchanted with your paper. People who make valid points and pose legitimate questions in regard to the direction of the denomination–that do not agree with your liberal/progressive push–are eventually censored never to be heard from again. Wes Andrews is one, however, that you continue to publish. I am thankful for that. And, as I read published comments this morning– theenemyhatesclarity still appears in some of your comments. That person is another great “poster.” I will continue to read what you say to understand where you would like the umc to move. I am under no illusion that… Read more »
Joe Tognetti

Isn’t the new requirement 3/4, as passed by GC2016?

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